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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | March 29, 2022

Who Am I…

By Airman 1st Class Martha Magallon Ochoa, 316th Wing Judge Advocate adverse actions paralegal 316th Wing Public Affairs

I am a Mexican immigrant who had her life turned upside down as a young girl, and I use those experiences to fuel the desire to help others.

The journey to get to where I am today was not easy. It was at times difficult, challenging, and overwhelming.

My family and I had a happy life in my town of Zacapu, Mexico, but everything changed when I was 14 years old, and my dad was assaulted. He was in a medical coma for at least 15 days.

When he woke up, he was never the same.

My mom feared for our lives, so she made the decision to bring my niece, two young nephews, and me to the United States, leaving my father behind.

When we got to Houston, Texas, I started middle school. That time for me was one of the most challenging because my peers bullied me when they saw that I struggled with English.

With the help of my teachers, I was determined to persevere in my education, especially learning English. I refused to let the struggle stop me from accomplishing my goals. By the time I was in high school, I had become an honor roll student.

The first exposure I had to the military was when I was 14 years old, in a Houston, Texas mall. I passed by a recruiter’s office, and I told my mom, “one day I will join the United States military.”

At that time the closest thing I had to military training was the junior ROTC program in high school. I admired and loved the discipline of the military training we used to do.

I worked to pay my way through college, seeking a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Once again my hard work and dedication landed me on the dean’s list. I will be the first member of my family to graduate from college.

Who would have thought that 21 years later, I was going to fulfill my teenage dream of joining the United States Air Force. On my 35th birthday I arrived at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, for my first day of basic military training.

Almost every day now when I look at myself in the mirror with my uniform on, it brings tears to my eyes. The young girl who fled Mexico is now in the Air Force, serving as a paralegal. Most times it feels surreal to think my base is a few miles away from the White House.

I dream of becoming an agent in the Office of Special Investigations. Joining the Air Force was the first step for me.

I want to join the fight and seek justice for women who have been victims of a crime. I hope to help stop the oppression of women and be a role model demonstrating the abilities we possess to accomplish the goals we have in life. It all depends on your determination and passion.

As long as my heart beats in my chest, I will continue to break barriers for my family, for women, and for myself. I am thankful for the decision my mom made, because it led to experiences and opportunities I never could have imagined.

This is only the beginning of my story.